Waterfront at Nottingham to be regenerated

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The Independent Online

Nottingham is to become the latest British industrial city to be regenerated by canal.

Nottingham is to become the latest British industrial city to be regenerated by canal.

The conurbation on the Trent is to follow Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield in using its derelict 19th-century canalside to restore its most rundown areas. In a huge scheme extending over more than 200 acres, the Nottingham Cut of the Grand Union canal, which runs south of the city centre, and the nearby frontage to the Trent will both be given a massive makeover.

British Waterways, the canal authority, has formed a partnership with the city council to encourage private development of the sites, which is expected to include housing, business and office premises as well as tourist attractions.

The model will be the successful waterside regeneration that has transformed several of England's Victorian industrial cities over the past decade. Leeds has Granary Wharf and Fearn Wharf and the Royal Armouries Museum at Clarence Dock; Sheffield has Victoria Quays with its massive warehouse straddling the water; and Birmingham has the award-winning Gas Street basin of the Worcester and Birmingham canal, where Bill Clinton strolled at the G8 summit two years ago.

Manchester has revived both ends of its city centre by developing the Rochdale canal. The Castlefields area, 10 years ago a wasteland of redundant scrap-yards, has been transformed by large-scale warehouse renovation led by a businessman, Jim Ramsbottom, while a mileto the west, the city's celebrated gay village has grown along the water's edge in Canal Street.

In each case a derelict canal has been the catalyst for redevelopment, threading an area together and providing an attractive waterside base for new buildings or encouragingthe transformation of old warehouses into smart loft apartments, shops and restaurants.

John Prescott, the Environment Secretary - very much a canal fan - has relaxed British Waterways' investment rules to allow co-development with the private sector. It calculates it has now been involved in £1bnof urban regeneration projects over the past decade.

Both British Waterways and Nottingham City Council are excited at the possibilitiesopened up by their partnership - named Nottingham Waterside Ltd. It is hoped the development will provide valuable office space for service industries now moving into the city. After the decline brought about by the collapse of the coal industry, Nottingham has become one of the fastest-growing conurbations in the UK: unemployment has fallen from 15.5 per cent to 8.1 per cent since 1995.

Eugene Baston of British Waterways said: "The part of the canal which will be redeveloped is at present Nottingham's backwater. It's dank and dark and not pleasant at all. It's going to be transformed."